1 [stahy-fuhl]
verb (used with object), stifled, stifling.
to quell, crush, or end by force: to stifle a revolt; to stifle free expression.
to suppress, curb, or withhold: to stifle a yawn.
to kill by impeding respiration; smother.
verb (used without object), stifled, stifling.
to suffer from difficulty in breathing, as in a close atmosphere.
to become stifled or suffocated.

1350–1400; Middle English < Old Norse stīfla to stop up, dam, akin to stīfr stiff

stifler, noun
unstifled, adjective

1. prevent, preclude, put down. 2. check. 3. suffocate, strangle, choke.

1, 2. encourage. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
stifle1 (ˈstaɪfəl)
1.  (tr) to smother or suppress: stifle a cough
2.  to feel or cause to feel discomfort and difficulty in breathing
3.  to prevent or be prevented from breathing so as to cause death
4.  (tr) to crush or stamp out
[C14: variant of stuflen, probably from Old French estouffer to smother]

stifle2 (ˈstaɪfəl)
the joint in the hind leg of a horse, dog, etc, between the femur and tibia
[C14: of unknown origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "to choke, suffocate, drown," of uncertain origin, possibly an alteration of O.Fr. estouffer "to stifle, smother," which may be from a Gmc. source (cf. O.H.G. stopfon "to plug up, stuff"). Metaphoric sense is from 1570s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
They argue that new network services and consumer access to vital information
  could be stifled by added fees.
Previous experiments had used two or more such layers, which stifled the flow
  of spin-aligned electrons.
One well-known area of research government stifled in the past is stem cells.
Once brain is stifled of any reasoning the exercise required to keep the brain
  healthy is nipped in the bud.
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